A building that would have housed an upcoming drug rehab center for mothers in Carlsbad, N.M. has been deemed too expensive to renovate. City officials have instead designated a more suitable building to serve as the center’s location.
Back in 2016, the city approved a new facility called Avalon Ranch to move into the site of a defunct drug rehab center, which had closed due to poor conditions. A $485,000 state grant was directed to refurbish the building. Last December, asbestos was discovered at the location and city council members approved a motion to allocate approximately $15,000 to cover the repair costs.
Members of the Carlsbad Mayor’s Mental Health Task Force recently determined that total repair costs would exceed $500,000. The task force decided that a former juvenile delinquent home requiring minimal alterations would be a more appropriate location for Avalon Ranch.
Task force officials are hoping to receive additional state funding as well as assistance from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to utilize once the center begins accepting patients.
The facility will feature 10 bedrooms for patients and services focused on assisting mothers with substance use disorders.
A city government official recognized that many women in need of treatment do not want to be separated from their children. To assuage this concern, children under 8 years old will be allowed to stay with their mothers at Avalon Ranch.
In addition to addiction recovery services, the drug rehab center may offer horticultural therapy and equine-assisted therapy (EAT).
Although its association with substance abuse treatment is relatively new, EAT is recognized as a form of psychotherapy. According to a 2016 study by Oslo University Hospital and the University of Oslo, EAT has effectively assisted addiction treatment patients in Norway. While in a recovery program, the participants of the study regularly spent time in stables and developed relationships with the horses they visited.
Most of the study’s subjects stated that they looked forward to interacting with the horses; that the stable visits appeared to be an environment separate from their treatment program; that they developed a better self-image — rather than identifying themselves as addiction treatment patients — and acquired a sense of responsibility by caring for the horses. The study’s authors viewed the results positively.
Avalon Ranch represents one of several attempts by government and medical authorities to expand local addiction treatment services and curb the devastating effects of the opioid crisis.
SAMHSA’s treatment locator lists two addiction treatment centers in Carlsbad. An additional eight facilities are located within a 70-mile radius of the city.
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation recently released data showing that opioid-related overdose deaths in New Mexico have been declining since 2014. However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, New Mexico experienced 349 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2016. New Mexico’s Department of Health reported that 57 drug overdose deaths occurred that year in Eddy County, where Carlsbad is located.
Construction plans for Avalon Ranch’s new location are being finalized. The drug rehab center is expected to open by the end of the year.